Small business hiring is set to be stronger than ever

December 28, 2020

The future of small businesses has been at the forefront of conversation lately, as many felt the most brutal impacts of the pandemic. Of course, there have been the small mom-and-pop shops, restaurants and retail businesses that took dramatic losses, but it hasn’t been all bad across the board. 

We’ve seen industries like manufacturing and some healthcare specialties experience massive hiring needs, while other industries hold steady, like technology and finance. There are small-to-medium-size employers in all of these sectors, and Kate Pancero, a CareerBuilder leader over the group that serves these unique organizations, shares insights about how these companies have fared. 

What have you experienced this year through supporting clients? 

“Small businesses have gotten creative this year, and the silver lining in all of the bad was that these challenges offered an opportunity to re-evaluate and consider what’s needed. My job is mostly interacting with customers to help them be as successful as possible during a time that is cattywampus, and through that, I’ve heard amazing stories, along with companies that are upset and scared. We’ve all now been in lockdowns and tough times together, and it’s rewarding to work with customers and uncover the ‘onion layers’ to find out how we can help them be more successful than they were 12 hours ago.” 

What has changed in talent acquisition for small businesses? 

“The biggest things were to uncover what’s going on within their business, ask extra questions and understand what’s underneath that, then offer support and another way to think about posting a job or sorting through candidates. For example, a hiring manager might have access to data but didn’t know how to use it. Everyone is trying to move at the speed of sound, but we really had to take a step back and try to take note of trends. It would come down to instances of tweaking the job title we were searching to better reflect what candidates were actually looking for, or other times it was integrating tools to have the most seamless process. We had to dig deeper. 

With small and medium-sized businesses, you see both sides. People are laying off friends and family and losing investments, while others are ramping up hiring. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve talked with who are opening a new division, for example, in healthcare. While this is a tough, uncertain time, that entrepreneurial spirit will never go away. I have faith in those business owners who have seen tough times that they’ll start something new when they can.” 

Are there any positive trends or things to look forward to?  

“The ‘cool’ part is that this has given small businesses the opportunity to show how agile they can be with ideas and creativity. A lot of what has happened with small businesses this year was working with our clients to get creative in stretching dollars, figuring out how to shorten the hiring process or pivot to something completely different. Our teams will analyze companies and firms to really understand what they’re good at doing, then tweak processes in one or two ways and discover an entire bucket of talent they’d never considered before. Or, other companies took this time to try something new that has been on their list for a while.  

We also know that with the vaccine, there will be more opportunity to get back into the swing of things. They’ll go back to being the creative American businesses that we love and that CareerBuilder serves. You do have that creativity and American dream with these businesses, and this whole year gave them an opportunity to look internally at themselves and their business and think about what’s next. These important companies will be able to serve our country and economy even better when the world starts to open back up a bit.” 

What talent acquisition strategies are next or are majorly supporting these businesses right now? 

“Virtual hiring events and candidate sourcing are two big strategies right now. Plus, after the vaccines are rolled out, we’ll continue to see those grow, along with employee referral programs. It’s such a strong message when, say, a manufacturer in Ohio can tell their own story to hire their next employee.” 

Related reading: 

5 ways small businesses can still focus on hiring 

4 ways small businesses can reward employees when budgets are tight

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